When it comes to training a Maremma to work on the farm, it will all be about balance.
Maremmas are naturally intelligent and independent. Their instincts to be guardians of livestock come from generations and generations of breeding. They are used to working independently and with very little human interaction.
They are lone sentinels on the hill.
Batman in a white fur jacket.
Which is all well and good when you are guarding sheep in the vast farmlands of the Maremmano and Abruzzo regions of Italy. Here, in my farm in Connecticut, I'll have to teach Mystic to socialize with people and other animals.
We have neighbors. We have a community nearby. This is no valley surrounded by mountains where Mystic will be able to roam for hours without seeing a stranger.
I need to help keep him safe.
But I also have to get used to the idea that he may not ever really like it. It’ll be a win to get him to tolerate it. And that is my responsibility as a leader.
My goal is not to change the dog’s nature. His breeding. My goal is to find a balance between what Mystic instinctually wants to do and how I need him to behave.
As you likely know, I believe that the greater part of training is about the relationship in building reliability and consistency to live the best life with your animals. I’ll be building a bond with Mystic as we do these exercises so that he will know he can trust me.
To that end my plan is to start with meeting people in town.
The first thing will be teaching him to walk on a leash. It will likely bother him at first but Mystic has shown himself to very adaptive and I am sure he will take well to it.
Once he’s good with walking on the leash we will graduate to walking around town and interacting with strangers. Mystic is a very cute looking puppy. I doubt we’ll have much trouble finding people who will help test his patience and tolerance for interaction.
I’ll do this in short trips so not to push too much too fast.
Next I’ll take him to Dog Gone Smart, my doggy daycare, where he will get some puppy playtime and the opportunity to interact with other dogs.
This is probably the biggest and best thing I can do to help him with his socialization. To learn from other dogs how to play and interact. To learn how to lead and be led. I’ll need to watch him carefully so his tendency to want to be in charge doesn’t get him in trouble with an older dog, but I am sure it will be worth it.
For him and for me.
The journey continues.
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